A series of coincidences, synchronicity, or just flukes?
I was in Oakland finishing up a client project and went to a bookstore. I always start in the memoir/biography section but that day, I didn’t see anything that grabbed me. Next I checked out the “how to” books on writing.
I saw a book “Writing The Mind Alive” about the proprioceptive method, which sounded somehow familiar. I had to get back to work so I bought it and left. I commute home by BART/bus so that evening was my first chance to crack it open.
I read the acknowledgements and there was a thank you to Christiane Northrup who was one of my doctors when I lived in Portland Maine. I’ve seen her on TV and know that after I left Portland, she wrote some popular books on healing. That was interesting. Then I see that Northrup wrote the entire forward to the book.
I learned that the author, Linda Trichter Metcalf and her partner Tobin Simon had a Writing Center in Rockport, Maine and I thought, well, I must have seen something about proprioceptive writing when I lived in Portland – but I had no memory of it.
When I got home, Mary Anne was on the phone with her sister Katy. It was Katy’s birthday. I went to the computer and looked up proprioceptive writing and saw that there was going to be a weekend writing workshop, nearby – in San Rafael, which is just over the bridge from where we live. I pondered if I should consider going and if I went, if I should sleep over or just commute each day. I went back to the living room and discussed it with MA. She said I should sign up and should sleep over.
Then we were talking about birthdays as her brother’s was the next week and hers the week after and she said “and you know what’s after that” and I said,”yes, your father died.”
Her father died the day after her birthday and her mother died the day after the birthday of one of her brothers. She said it would be the 30th anniversary of her father’s death. We talked for a while then I went back to the computer to find out more about the class, the retreat center, and to register/pay.
In looking at the web site for the retreat center, Santa Sabina, in the About Us section, I read the design was influenced by Sister Raymond O’Connor – Mary Anne’s father was Raymond O’Connor! In doing a search for the Sister, I see she died back in the 1930’s and they refer to her as Mother Mary Raymond O’Connor as she was the Mother Superior of the Dominican Order that was at Santa Sabina ( I’m not Catholic – I hope I got that right?). I made MA’s hair stand on end when I told her that. She had to go in our office and verify it on the computer screen.
The next week I was working in Berkeley so one lunch hour, I went to a bookstore there – straight to the memoir section. I scanned the one bookcase of memoirs and didn’t see anything but I had more time so I started over – book by book. I saw there was one book- Drinking the Rain – about Maine -by Alix Kates Shulman . I knew she was a famous author or a famous person but didn’t remember her books. I wasn’t sure why I knew her name but I know now. The back cover told me she left NYC and moved to an island in Maine so I bought the book (it’s about Maine so how could I go wrong?) and I went back to work based on that alone. Later, riding home on BART, I cracked it open and saw it was dedicated to Linda Trichter Metcalf and I thought, wait a minute, isn’t that who wrote the proprioceptive book? And soon I had verification.
I loved Shulman’s memoir, the island was Long Island, you can get there by ferry from Portland. I’ve been there once.
There was a woman L in my support group and her partner was Jane Wray, an artist. One weekend, my girlfriend and I went out to Long Island with Jane, L, and Jane’s mother – or am I remembering incorrectly – was her mother still living there? The Wray’s had a house there and Jane had lived there when she was young.
That day, her mother told us stories about WWII when there were a lot of soldiers stationed on Long Island and people stayed up until all hours drinking, dancing and playing cards (no TVs yet). The entire visit, Jane’s mother sat in the kitchen, sipping a small glass of sherry and smoking cigarettes and telling us stories but of course we took a break for a walk and went down to the beach and probably walked by a long driveway where Jane may have said “a famous writer lives there.”
So we were out on Long Island because Jane and my girlfriend were making a trade – one of Jane’s paintings for a small sailboat. A friend of my girlfriend’s (Nancy, an architect) was sailing that boat from the mainland to Long Island because Jane wanted it there.
So Nancy finally arrived, the trade was made, and I’ve never been back to Long Island. However, I loved that painting and it hangs in my house today.
So when I sat down to write this with book in hand, on opening it I saw the first acknowledgment in the proprioceptive book was a thank you to Alix Kates Shulman! It must not have registered consciously with me before but maybe that’s why I pulled her book off the shelf back in Berkeley. Still, I can’t believe there was just one copy of her book among their limited supply of memoirs and now it belongs to me.
When I told my friend Val, who lived in Portland when I did, all about this, she told me had been a visiting nurse out in Long Island and met so many interesting people there and she’d read Alix’s memoir 3 or 4 times. So soon, I will start again on page one.